Friday, June 24, 2016

Paris: A beautiful memory

We got back from Paris Tuesday night, exhausted, amazed and inspired. There were photos to process, clothes to unpack and a whirlwind journey to absorb. There was also a very happy cat to adore.

Our Paris trip was everything I had hoped it would be. I know this blog is about art but trust me this trip to Paris will fuel a lot of art in the future so let me just break it down.

Saturday: Travel day and arrival

Lovely worlds pass us by, visions of the sea, green rolling hills and flat lands, sheep, cottages on beaches, villages and cities provide our view.

After a signalling delay in York, a change of trains was required and then we were on the tracks again to London where we changed trains to the Eurostar. More beautiful worlds passed us and then we entered the Chunnel. I thought I might be nervous or weirded out by being in a tube under the sea but nae bother! Once out, suddenly France and then just as suddenly, Paris!

We arrived in late evening, still light and hailed a taxi outside the station to the flat we were sharing with my brother, sister in law, and my two nephews. Hugs and hellos, some food and wine and then my brother and I went out to have a bit more wine and ended up sitting outside in a lovely neighborhood. Ah...and then soon to sleep.

Sunday: First full day and Subatlantic

A sunny and bright start, walking through the streets to the market in Charonne, stopped to listen to the organ grinder play and sing a tune. Fresh fruit and veggies abound.

We have brunch and then walk over to Cimetière du Père-Lachaise and visited the graves of Jim Morrison, Amedeo Modigliani, Edith Piaf and countless others. It is a beautiful and vast green space filled with some of the great artists and minds. One could easily spend an entire day here.

After this we took a break and enjoyed a glass of wine nearby before heading off to the Tour Eiffel! I enjoyed wandering the tree lined streets before the massive monument appeared before us all. My jaw dropped and I gasped "WOW..." as did my young nephews. It is amazing to suddenly just happen upon it and nothing you see in television, films or books can prepare you for the enormity of it. It was magnificent! From there we also glimpsed and walked along a section of the Seine.

By this time it was getting later in the afternoon and so we took a crazy taxi ride to Belleville in preparation for Sean's band, Subatlantic's gig. The band was playing later that night at La Barricade, a lovely little venue. After checking in at the venue, we wandered around the area and found a Chinese place around the corner for our dinner. As it was a beautiful and warm evening, after dinner Stewart and I took a stroll around the neighborhood before returning to the venue to see the gig. It was a great show and it was really wonderful to finally see Subatlantic in person and especially on their first European tour date! After the gig it was back to the flat to sleep after a long action filled day.

Monday: Second full day, sightseeing and rain

In the morning, Stewart and I decided to hit the streets a bit earlier and visit the Arc De Triomphe. Again the Arc is just magnificent and has such a presence when you are standing near it as opposed to seeing in on television or in a book. Of course this seems obvious but it really is mind blowing when one finds themselves next to these famous monuments.

After this we wandered further along the Champs Elysées. From here we wandered around discovering various other monuments and parks (Saint-Jacques Tower, Square De La Tour Saint Jacques and Fontaine du Palmier). We found ourselves crossing the river and enjoying the left bank, taking in the sights and sounds of the beautiful narrow streets (Pont au Change,Tour de l'Horloge, Square Jean-XXIII, Fontaine Saint-Michel, Rue de la Harpe, Boulevard Saint-Michel, Rue de la Huchette and Square René-Viviani). Then onwards back across the water to the obviously epic, Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris. We waited in the pouring rain to enter this masterpiece and it was beyond worth it. My eyes filled with tears once inside, just beautiful.

After Notre-Dame we met up with my brother in the rain. We quickly took a detour for some photos at the Quai du Marché-Neuf and then on to a cafe to meet up with the rest of the family to enjoy the sound of the rain while we watched the world go by and shared some wine. It is true that all the wine in Paris tastes wonderful.

After the wine and the rain we walked around as a group further in the Left Bank enjoying again the colorful streets and the dark majesty of Saint-Séverin cathedral before taking the metro to see one more major attraction. We visited the Place de la concorde and the wonderful fountains there and the massive Egyptian Obelisk. A beautiful point in the city where many monuments can be seen at once. The rain was picking up and we were hungry for our dinner.

From there it was back to Belleville (the area from the night before) where we quested for our dinner (being that I am a vegan and gluten free, this can be a challenge). We finally settled on some lovely Thai curry and sticky rice and then proceeded homeward. On the way home my brother and I spotted a lovely place for a drink or three and we broke from the group to enjoy the atmosphere, music and mojitos provided by the lovely, Piston Pelican. It was good to sit and relax and have this time with my brother. If I was a local, the Piston Pelican would be my regular. After this it was on to the flat for one last trek up the beautiful six flights of wooden, almost spiral stairs and then to sleep.

Tuesday: Morning in Paris: train home at noon

My brother and his family left out early on Tuesday morning and we followed an hour or so later. They were headed towards the south of France for more music touring and explorations. We were headed back to Edinburgh.

We didn't really have enough time to do any deep new exploring so we went back for another wander of Cimetière du Père-Lachaise, enjoying the peace and fresh air before our long train journey ahead. Afterwards we got the metro and headed to the station, Gare du Nord and once there we were on our way to London and then homeward to Edinburgh.

What an amazing trip combining so many of my favorite things. I can't wait to go back! I also can't wait to get back to the studio and make some art!

Friday, June 17, 2016

To Paris!

Tomorrow we are headed to Paris!

I am very excited about this as I have never been and I can't wait to meet up with my brother Sean and his family as well. We are taking the train which I am also excited about as train travel always seems more calm and relaxed than flying. I love just listening to music and watching the world go by and of course arriving in Paris at the end of the journey will seem magical.

I am looking forward to walking the streets, seeing the monuments and getting a feel for the place. We are not going to Paris for long (two full days and two travel days) so I doubt we will have the time to take in the extraordinary museums. Needs must as they say and another reason to return sooner than later!

Besides being an amazing adventure, my goal is that this trip will be fun and easy enough that it will make us both want to travel more. I have been itching to travel since I got to Edinburgh but it just hasn't worked out. Maybe this jaunt will be the beginning of a spate of travels. I can only hope!

I don't have too much else to add right now as I am busy packing, tidying up the flat for the cat sitter and doing those last minute things one does before travel. Needless to say I am of course very excited!

Onward to Paris!

Friday, June 10, 2016

Looking for the light

detail from the new series
I finished the commission as planned and posted it to the States this past Monday. I was delighted with how well it turned out and almost hated to see it go. 

Sometimes working with prompts from a patron can be nerve wracking but sometimes if the prompts are interesting and just loose enough, it can really inspire. Luckily that is what happened with this piece.

Because of this, I knew I wanted to expand on what I started and create a series of new small works loosely based on one of the techniques I used in the commission. It was exciting to keep experimenting and to maintain an attitude of play this week in the studio.

Happily, this exploratory and playful attitude spilled over into all areas of my life. This is Scotland and the sun is never to be taken for granted. This week, there were sunny hours spent at the Leith Jazz Festival, The Royal Botanic Gardens and Lauriston Castle. There were also bike rides to Granton Harbour and anywhere else beautiful and calm the cycle paths would take me.

Nature is a refuge just as are newly discovered pubs and beer gardens and it is important for me and my art to live well and discover it all. Everything inspires everything else. I am trying to embrace the joy in this life without doubt, judgment and second guesses. So much of what we have been taught about artists is dark, brooding and very painful and while I can relate, it doesn't keep me from looking for the light and celebrating each moment of beauty that I see.

Until next week, you know what to do...

Friday, June 3, 2016

Faith, Optimism, Alchemy

Last week I wrote about the wonderful opening of the ReUnion exhibition at the Union Gallery. If you missed it, you can read about it here. This week I spent some time in the studio cleaning up and reorganizing after moving the six paintings out of my space for the show.

It is so important for me to just spend time in my studio, touching my paintings, moving around my materials and cleaning things up to prepare to start again. Continually starting again, that is what being an artist is all about. Never stopping for too long. Slowing down sometimes but never stopping. I haven't been quite as prolific with my small works lately as I have been busy working on a special commission headed stateside next week.

I had some studio visitors the other day and I was talking about how perhaps being an artist has a lot to do with faith. Faith that your work is good, faith that someone will see it and want it, faith that you are not crazy, faith to continue on a path that seems mostly foolish and ill conceived. I am not a religious person but I am optimistic. Can optimism be the same thing as faith? Nearly. I think art has given me both of these qualities.

complete trust or confidence in someone or something.

hopefulness and confidence about the future or the success of something.

Whether I have faith or optimism; art is alchemy and that I know for sure. 

a seemingly magical process of transformation, creation, or combination.

So here I am again, getting ready to return to the cycle of active creation. Returning to more small works and to more large works and a continuation on a theme. The commission had some specific requested elements and has inspired some new ideas for the next things to come. Once my patrons have their commission, I will dedicate a blog post to it, the symbolism and materials.

Alchemy was certainly involved.

Until next week, I hope your studios and hearts are humming.